Last week I returned from a week in the woods with my sister and our kids. My grandparents have a cabin that was built when I was 1. Recently they added on a new wing which includes a sleeping loft and a new master bedroom as well as an extra 1 1/2 bathrooms. With the new space, I thought it would be fun to take my kids up for a week and enjoy being up in the mountains. I invited my sisters and sisters-in-law but only my older sister took me up on it. We planned menus and shopped and got ready. Unfortunately I got sick right before we left so I didn’t get as much stuff done as I would have liked, but ready or not it was time to go.
Now, you’ll remember that this cabin has been around my whole life. We spent many weekends during the summers up here, with our parents, cousins and grandparents. It is a large part of my memories as a child. I guess we assumed that those memories would be passed onto our kids through osmosis or something. That they would immediately know how to do the things we did as children to spend our time and enjoy the trip up there. We were sorely mistaken. 😉
One child, after two days of hikes and trips to the creek said, “I don’t WANT ANY MORE ADVENTURES!!!!”
Another child, when tired of dodging bees and bugs said, “I hate the outdoors! I don’t know why we have to be outside, anything I want to do I can do INSIDE!”
Granted, we made a few mistakes. We allowed the kids to bring up an XBOX and DSs. Which means we were constantly negotiating and debating when they could play and for how long. We didn’t set those boundaries at the beginning which would also have helped. And we went for a few too many days- we should have quit at 5 days (at the VERY longest).
We did have a great time. The kids eventually learned how to play outside for longer periods of time and everyone pretty much got along. (a miracle with 8 kids up there) But I learned some things. We (by we I mean I) are handicapping our kids by holding them so close. Today’s media has us so freaked out about safety that we are afraid to let our kids just be kids. My mom told me she read an article that said the statistics about children’s safety show that even today, there is such a small risk of something happening to our kids, but the media makes such a big deal out of every time things happen, we think they are more common than they are.
So, I’ve been doing some thinking. I don’t want my kids to be video game experts. I want them to be well-rounded, active people who enjoy many different things, especially the beauty of the world around them. But, I’m not sure how to go about it. This probably isn’t the best year to instill in them a love of hiking. (baby #5 is due in about 5 weeks) But there has to be something I can do to encourage them to explore the world around them. So, I’m asking for your help. What do you do to facilitate your children stretching their abilities, to keep them active and entertained without resorting to a glowing box in front of them all the time? How do you help them learn to entertain themselves independently? I mean, I don’t mind doing things with them, but I also have orders to fill, things to do and I really don’t want to be the entertainment committee.
I am starting with limiting game and t.v. time, but honestly, when they ask me what they can do- I’m not sure how to answer. A box of craft supplies sounds like a great idea, but how do you contain the mess, and make sure you’re not left with a disaster that takes you longer to clean than it did for them to make? I am not super mom. I have no intention of being one either. I want my kids to learn how to make their own fun and then clean it up afterwards. I hope that’s not asking too much, but honestly I’m not really sure how to start. I’d love to know what you’re doing, what you have done, what worked, what didn’t, what your mom/sister/grandmother did. Anything. Ready? GO!
XOXO and Thank You in advance!! 🙂